peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2024 04 25 LaChimera

La Chimera (2023)

/noise/movies | Link

Grave robbing in 1980s Tuscany. The lead (Josh O'Connor) is, of course, English and has the critical skill of divining the location of tombs containing valuable artefacts. We meet him on a train returning from a bout of incarceration where he proves as irresistible to the ladies as Richard Burton's defrocked priest in The Night of the Iguana despite lacking the presence and voice. Like Orpheus he's lost and bereaved in the waking/above ground world.

The rest of the gang is a bit rag-tag and sometimes amusing. There's some fun made of gender roles. The romantic aspects left me cold: notionally he's still in love with a dead girl (who we see in flashbacks but whose character is not developed) which explains his dour mien but not his willingness to jump into bed with an uptight "broomstick" (Carol Duarte). Isabella Rossellini does a great job as a matriarch in a decaying mansion. She's fantastic in the scene where we meet her daughters but things are too cliched after the wild inventiveness of the tomb robbing.

Overall things were a bit too loose, too vague. I enjoyed the diversity of languages, including sign language which struck me as almost universal. There are quite a few pile ons / overlapping dialogues (the Englishman's gang and the daughters) which was effective ala Robert Altman. The magic realism has a dash of Guillermo del Toro without the violence and graphic imagery. It is slightly artificial like a Hal Hartley but less so.

Prompted by Jason Di Rosso's interview with co-writer/director Alice Rohrwacher. She's great but his attempts to help her out by rephrasing her responses were unnecessary and a bit annoying. She knew what she was trying to do! Luke Goodsell: Indiana Jones! James Bond! I think not. A Critic's Pick by Manohla Dargis. Peter Bradshaw: five stars! An interview with Rossellini. Later Michael Wood summarised it for us.